Still searching for why he was burned, Michael enters a local conference, brazenly enters the Security office and browses the logs for the name of some conference attendee that he feels might be able to give him information. Getting a name, he narrowly escapes the now-wise security staff.
At the apartment, Michael is upset because Fiona has broken in, but Fiona says she had to because Michael won't give her a key. Well versed in arguing with Michael, Fiona compares the lack of her own key to the fact that Michael doesn't even own a car. Fi uses these two facts in tandem as proof of what she sees as his inability to commit to anything.
Leaving the apartment, Michael is approached by his landlord, who needs Michael to solve another problem for him. This time, his best waitress isn't showing up for work. It seems the waitress, Cara, and her daughter Sophie witnessed a big shot in a drug cartel beat up a pizza delivery guy for rear-ending his Lexus. The drug honcho, Desantos, has no problem offing the witnesses against him, and Cara is afraid to leave her house. Michael negotiates for four months free rent and agrees to help.
As for progress regarding his burn notice, Michael has settled on an Egyptian spy he knows, Akhom, who is attending a conference. Michael approaches Akhom at the conference, reminding him that he once saved his life. If that isn't enough to enlist Akhom's assistance, Michael ups the ante by threatening to expose his double-dealings to the Sudanese delegates the Egyptian is meeting with at the conference. Akhom is not happy, particularly when Michael tells him it's a copy of the Homeland Security Directive that blacklisted him that he wants. Fiona agrees to tail the Egyptian, if Michael will ask his mother for the car left by his dead father. She is first sent to baby-sit Cara and Sophie at their home.
Sam helps Michael out by finding out the name of the drug thug threatening his clients, one Alvaro Destratos. Michael's conversation with him doesn't go well, and he learns that the drug lord expects the witnesses to cease to be a problem momentarily. Michael manages to warn Fiona just in time for her to send the thugs scurrying with improvised Molotov cocktails using the liquor cabinet and a few rags. Fiona is having the time of her life, but Cara and Sophie are badly shaken, and must be moved to a safer location.
Hiding them in Madeline's garage, complete with cool tricked-out on-the-cheap spy techniques for keeping remote tabs on their security, is Michael's first idea, but the teenager Sophie is predictably miserable, especially when Michael forbids the use of her cell phone. She wants to attend her school's Spring Dance.
He approaches Desantos' lawyer after ambushing his car in the middle of the lawyer's own neighborhood, but the lawyer is employed by the entire cartel, and shows no mercy for the two witnesses against his client. Michael asks him to think it over, promising to return.
While spending so much time at his mother's house trying to protect his clients, Madeline reminds him that his father did indeed leave him a car, a vintage Dodge Charger. As he is trying to crank it, it's apparent that Michael and his father had a difficult relationship. However, Michael might owe his ingenuity to his father, a do-it-yourselfer without much talent or persistence. It seems finishing projects his dad began was delegated to Michael. The to-do-list is in the dash...the car needs spark plugs.
Meanwhile, back to the problem of the burn notice. Michael walks in on Akhom, while he is in the middle of a job. Using all the leverage he can muster, Michael convinces Akhom to get a copy of his burn notice.
Returning to the lawyer, Michael realizes he'll need a new plan, as the lawyer tries to blow him up with a car bomb that Michael luckily anticipated. He tries sending Cara and Sophie permanently to Buffalo, New York, while having Fiona plant evidence on their computer of a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, but the thugs don't buy it and the thought of leaving her friends for good upsets the teenager Sophie.
As a result, Sophie runs away from the garage, intending to attend the dance. Michael rescues her in the nick of time by dragging her away from the hit men and hiding her in the auto shop. Ingenuity wins the day again, as Michael heats up the door knob with a blow torch, and disarms to two attackers, escaping with Sophie and some spark plugs for the Charger.
Michael's final plan to save Sophie and Cara, as well as let Sophie have her wish to stay in town, is to turn the cartel against Desantos. Michael videotapes Desantos, while Sam records an innocent phone conversation with him, as Fiona checks off all the phrases they need him to say. Michael then edits the tape so as to appear that Desantos is ratting out the cartel, and syncs it with the video tape. Sam makes sure the FBI gets the tape, and Michael makes sure the lawyer finds out he tape exists. Desantos is last seen being forced into the trunk of a drug cartel car by some angry thugs.
Fiona gets her key as a reward, Sam gets a bit of relief from the FBI for turning over the drug cartel guy, and Michael makes his mother happy by reluctantly visiting his father's grave. He meets Akhom there and is given the copy of the burn notice. The alpha numeric tracing code on the notice is 37104:AA920435:GTVKNJ37. The special access code name is Cold Sunshine.
In Michael's words, "It's not much, but it's a start."